Monday, August 8
Our last day on Maui is dedicated to just taking it easy, which for me means starting with a nine-mile run. I go north along South Kihei Road along the coast about 4 1/2 miles, where there is a very cool geocache at a humpback whale sanctuary. (I don’t see any whales.) On the way back I find a couple more, including one very close to St. Theresa’s Church where we went to Mass on Sunday. For the rest of the day we relax on the beach, do a little snorkeling (Wow! The beautiful tropical fish! Ray and the boys even spot some sea turtles swimming around), swimming, reading, and just enjoying the tropical breezes. In the evening we decide to drive to West Maui to a little town called Lahaina, where we stroll up and down exploring the shops and some of the historic buildings, gawk at the largest banyan tree in the Untied States, and have a very nice dinner. (You know the fish is fresh when you see a guy strolling into the place with three freshly caught mahi-mahi slung over his shoulder.) If I ever go back to Maui I want to spend a little bit more time in Lahaina Town. It’s lovely.
Tuesday, August 9
Our flight to Honolulu doesn’t leave until 12:30. I get up and take one last early morning walk along the beach. We share the mango I rescued a few days ago for breakfast. I don’t think I’ll ever taste a mango as fresh and delicious as that one is. I watch the birds and the chickens one more time before we have to go. I also notice for the first time that there are banana trees on the property, with actual bananas growing on them! Unfortunately they’re small and green, not ready for picking. I will truly miss this little house. (I forgot to tell you that it has no air-conditioning, so we’ve been sleeping with the sliding doors and windows open every night. Heavenly.)
When we arrive in Honolulu we have a couple of hours before we can check into our hotel, so we take a drive to the Pali Lookout. Ray has been here several times and is fairly familiar with the area. He asked me if we had come to this spot when we were in Hawaii for our honeymoon, and I honestly can’t remember. It’s very windy at the lookout, with a beautiful view of the windward coast of Oahu. We learn that there was a battle here in 1795, during the war to unite Hawaii under King Kamehameha I. Hundreds of warriors fell to their deaths over the cliffs here. In the evening we walk to a restaurant in Waikiki called Duke’s, where we enjoy the best dinner on our trip. We’re even serenaded at our table by a lovely trio (an older couple and their daughter, we think). We even indulge in dessert!
(The view from outside Duke’s. The waitress laughs when Chris, Ray and Matt each order their own massive piece of their Hula Pie. They do a pretty good job finishing them off, and she says she’s impressed.)
Wednesday, August 10
Our hotel in Waikiki has a view of–besides the humongous hotel next door–the ocean, some mountains, and St. Augustine’s Catholic Church. (I make a mental note to step inside for a few quiet minutes of prayer while we’re here, but I never get around to it.) In the morning we decide to head out early for some snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. When we arrive we discover that the parking lot is completely full, and our only option is to find parking along the road and walk–and hope the rental car doesn’t get towed. No thanks. We decide to drive along the coast for a little while, stopping at Lanai Lookout, Halona blowhole (the sea wasn’t cooperating though), and Sandy Beach Park–which apparently was one of Barack Obama’s favorite hangouts back in the day. We’re a little disappointed at not getting to go snorkeling one more time–but only a little.
(The waves come up through that hole in the rock in the bottom left photo. We stand for a few minutes looking at it but it must be low tide because we only see a few little splashes, not the impressive spout of water it’s famous for.)
After a quick lunch of takeout Subway in our hotel room, we head to Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. If you’re ever on the island of Oahu that is the one place you must visit if you don’t do anything else. I can’t tell you how moving it is to visit this place where we were attacked on December 7, 1941, and especially the sunken Arizona where hundreds of servicemen are still entombed. Afterward we go on a quest for shave ice, and after Google Maps leads us to a dead end, we finally find a tiny little place with a line stretching down the sidewalk. Turns out this establishment was featured on the TV show Bizarre Foods a number of years ago. I order the bananas foster flavor with a coconut cream topping–heavenly. My innards will pay for it later but OH MY is it delicious! After we get back to the hotel I squeeze in a short run, which isn’t easy because Waikiki is super crowded. I do manage to find a geocache, though! Then a walk to find one last dinner in Waikiki, with a quick stop to watch the sun setting.
Thursday, August 11
The one thing I want to do here–besides visit Pearl Harbor–is hike to the top of Diamond Head. We decide to go before breakfast to beat the crowds–and even with an early start the crowds beat us. The parking lot at Diamond Head is full (we aren’t really all that surprised), but fortunately there is a park close by where there’s plenty of parking and only about a half mile walk to the trail head. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a hiking trail that was so packed with tourists, even in Yellowstone where some of the most popular spots can get pretty crowded. Still, it’s a lovely hike to the top, and very interesting to see the old bunkers and remnants of gun turrets left over from when this was used to defend the Hawaiian islands during WWII. You even get to walk through the bunker at the top. From the summit the view is stunning, and–yay!–it’s a virtual geocache.
We make our way back down the trail to our rental car and back to our hotel, where we have breakfast and check out. We’ve booked a red-eye flight, so we have the rest of the day to go exploring. First, we visit the Ala Moana mall, where we pick up Aloha shirts for everyone at Hilo Hatties, walk around and browse the stores for a bit, and have lunch. What to do with the rest of the day? We give the boys some choices: visit the Dole Plantation or the Polynesian Cultural Center, or take a driving tour of the North Shore. The boys pick the last option. We make our way around the northern coast of Oahu, stopping along the way to snack on some fresh local fruit, sample some local shrimp, and marvel at Oahu’s natural wonders. Our favorite (and final) stop is Turtle Beach, where we find two sea turtles basking in the sand. We gas up the rental car, head to the airport, grab some dinner, and board our flight for the long ride home.
Now my stats for this trip (I know you’re on the edge of your seat, haha):
Miles run: 19.6
Miles on the beach: about 1, plus a 1.8-mile walk
Miles hiked: 5.6
Geocaches found: 12
DNF (did not find): 3
I’m linking up again this week with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum. She’s written another beautiful post about being a mom of two special needs children. Have a wonderful weekend!